Modelling and simulating the brain's waterscape

Modelling and simulating the brain's waterscape

Your brain has its own waterscape: Whether you are reading or sleeping, fluid flows through your brain tissue and clears out waste. New medical research has shown that this waterscape is more essential than what was previously believed and that this flow is indeed crucial for the brain's well-being. In particular, the waste accumulation is linked to neurological diseases such as dementia (Alzheimer's disease) and to brain swelling caused by stroke.

Today, our understanding of the brain's cleansing process is dominated by experimental studies on mice during which pieces of brain tissue close to the skull are removed and studied via microscope. However, such methods have their weaknesses: It is hard or even impossible to look deep enough into the brain and it is not feasible to study the human brain with the same techniques.

Instead, we aim to develop to develop a new computational technology platform that allows for studying the brain's waterscape through numerical computations and simulations.


The topic gives room for multiple individual or collaborative projects tailored to the background and interests of the student(s). These projects aim to study and at improved understanding of different mathematical, biomechanics or computational aspects of flow and transport in the human brain.

Learning outcome

Depending on the direction of the particular project, the following learning outcomes may be expected:

  • Experience with analysis and practical use of the finite element method
  • Experience with finite element software such as the FEniCS software
  • Knowledge of flow and transport in porous media
  • Knowledge of advanced topics related to numerical methods


A background in applied mathematics, mechanics, physics and/or computer science is required. In particular, knowledge of partial differential equations, numerical methods such as finite element methods, and/or high-level scripting is a must. An enthusiastic and goal-oriented attitude is a plus.


  • Marie Elisabeth Rognes


The master thesis is associated with the research projects:

Associated contacts

Marie E. Rognes

Chief Research Scientist